Recycling Robots


Robotics technology has been used in a variety of industries for years, from manufacturing to healthcare. Now, robots are being used in recycling centers to help improve the efficiency of the recycling process.

Robots used in recycling centers are typically designed to lift, move, and sort recyclables. Automated robotic arms are designed to pick up recyclables, sort them into different categories, and place them in designated containers. Self-driving vehicles can travel around the recycling center and collect recyclables. Conveyor systems are designed to move recyclables through the recycling center and into designated containers.

How do they work?

Robots used in recycling centers are equipped with sensors and cameras to identify different types of recyclables. These sensors and cameras can be used to differentiate between different types of materials, such as plastics and paper. New AI applications can identify specific items, such as yogurt containers, and pull them from the stream of items on the conveyor belt. This helps to reduce the amount of contamination in the recycling process.

It’s hoped that automation will also help to capture more recyclables and keep them out of the landfill. As the robots become more skilled, they may be able to mitigate some of the current problems with recycling, making plastic recycling more practical than it currently is and making up for consumer errors.


Robots are currently less accurate than humans at the sorting process, but they are learning to identify items more accurately. They’re already faster than people — some can pull up to twice as many items per hour.

While automation usually reduces costs by cutting labor, the robots that recycle cost up to $300,000, according to Axios.

Rebecca Hu, cofounder of Glacier, one of the companies making these robots, told Axios not to worry about loss of human jobs. “As you install more of these types of robots,” she explained, “people are getting moved to safer or more mundane parts of the operation.”

While we don’t like to think about what kind of job could be more mundane than sorting refuse, we see the benefits of moving humans to safer jobs. He points out that it’s very hard to get and keep employees in these jobs, citing industry attrition rates of 500% and understaffing levels of 50%.


Whatever you use automation for, your drive and control systems are key. If you use Indramat, we can provide repair and reman services that will keep your legacy components out of landfills for years. Call for immediate assistance.


Image courtesy of Pixabay